Residents discover bats in Responsibility Hall

Two MU freshmen discovered bats in Responsibility Hall last month. It took pest control services about 10 hours to respond to the issue.

Last month, residents discovered two bats on the third floor of MU’s Responsibility Hall, prompting Residential Life to contact pest control services. It took them about 10 hours to respond.

MU freshman Rachel Phelps discovered the first bat, which was dead, by the third-floor elevator at 9:35 a.m. on March 6. Phelps sent a message to her floor’s GroupMe chat, warning others not to go near the bat or touch it. Her residential advisers were not in the group chat, and she said that she decided not to contact them due to the early timing of the incident.

On the same floor, MU freshman Reagan Swatosh discovered the second bat in her room minutes later. As she walked into her suite’s living room, she saw the bat lying in front of her room’s door, alive.

Swatosh said she moved the weak bat into a blanket and set it underneath a laundry basket. She placed the basket outside of her room with a warning note to fellow residents. Then, she contacted residential advisers, who contacted the Responsibility Hall coordinator.

“I think [the adviser’s] responses were good, she didn’t panic or anything, she took care of it pretty well,” Swatosh said.

Phelps and Swatosh both confirmed that the basket was left in the hallway for about 10 hours before local animal services responded to the issue.

“I walked by [the laundry basket] multiple times per day, and there was a sign that said ‘live bat, do not touch,’” Phelps said.

Swatosh said that neither MU Residential Life nor pest control services provided her with any information on how to clean her laundry basket or blankets afterward. She was never informed of the health risks associated with bats.

“That’s the one piece I thought was probably neglected [by Residential Life],” Swatosh said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bats, “are responsible for roughly 7 in 10 rabies deaths among people who are infected with the rabies virus in the United States.”

The most common diseases that can be passed from bat to human are rabies, histoplasmosis, salmonellosis and yersiniosis, according to a Washington State University report. These diseases can be passed on through ingestion of, or contact with, infected bat feces or urine. Parasites may be passed to humans through physical contact with bats as well.

Swatosh and Phelps’ residential adviser told her that bats have appeared in MU Residence Halls before.

MU Residential Life relies on Terminix in Columbia for pest control services. Neither MU Residential Life nor Terminix responded for a comment.

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